LOS ANGELES — An apparent joke gone awry thrust Best Actor winner Will Smith into the limelight ahead of schedule during Sunday’s 94th Academy Awards.
The “King Richard” star left his seat in the audience to walk on stage and strike actor and comedian Chris Rock, who was presenting the Oscar for documentary feature, Variety reported.
Here are the latest updates:
Update 7:51 p.m. EDT March 28: Will Smith apologized to Chris Rock via social media early Monday evening for slapping him on the stage of the 94th Academy Awards after the comedian made a joke at the expense of his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong. I am embarrassed and my actions were not indicative of the man I want to be. There is no place for violence in a world of love and kindness,” Smith, who won his first Oscar during Sunday’s ceremony for his lead actor role in “King Richard,” wrote on Instagram.
Smith also apologized in the post to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and to viewers at home, saying he was “out of line” and that his actions are “not indicative of the man I want to be.”
Update 3:14 p.m. EDT March 28: The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences says it condemns Smith’s slap of Rock and said that it has “officially started a formal review around the incident and will explore further action and consequences in accordance with our Bylaws, Standards of Conduct and California law,” The Associated Press and Deadline reported.
Many had called for some disciplinary action against Smith shortly after the incident including academy member writer-producer Marshall Herskovitz. He said Smith “disgraced our entire community” in a tweet, the AP reported.
Whoopi Goldberg, who is a member of the Acadamy’s board of governors, said that they will not take Smith’s Oscar from him, but that there will be consequences, the AP reported.
Update 2:22 p.m. EDT March 28: TMZ is refuting claims that Combs and Smith have made up. In their exclusive, TMZ reported an unnamed source said the two actors have not settled anything despite claims that Sean “Diddy” Combs claimed they had talked. The source also told TMZ that Rock said he did not know that Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia.
Update 11:02 a.m. EDT March 28: Sean “Diddy” Combs said Smith and Rock made up after the ceremony during the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party.
Combs told Page Six, “That’s not a problem. That’s over. I can confirm that.” He did not provide any other details.
Other media outlets are reporting the same outcome but all are citing Page Six’s exclusive interview.
Update 1:46 a.m. EDT March 28: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the following statement following the awards ceremony:
“The Academy does not condone violence of any form,” the organization tweeted shortly after 1 a.m. EDT Monday. “Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.”
The Academy does not condone violence of any form.— The Academy (@TheAcademy) March 28, 2022
Tonight we are delighted to celebrate our 94th Academy Awards winners, who deserve this moment of recognition from their peers and movie lovers around the world.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Police Department released its own statement saying investigators are aware of the incident, according to The Guardian and NBC News.
“The incident involved one individual slapping another,” the statement read. “The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”
"If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report." (2/2)— Lois Beckett (@loisbeckett) March 28, 2022
Original report: The confrontation followed a “G.I. Jane” joke Rock made about Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith’s wife, because of her shaved head.
Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from a hair-loss condition, of which she has spoken publicly, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Although, at first glance, the altercation appeared to be scripted, Smith returned to his seat and yelled at Rock, “Keep my wife’s name out of your (expletive) mouth,” according to Variety.
Will Smith’s best actor Oscar was awarded less than an hour later for his role as Richard Williams, father and tennis mentor to Venus and Serena Williams.
In tears, Will Smith said that Richard Williams was also fiercely protective of his family.
“I want to be a vessel for love,” he said following the heated confrontation and his first Academy Award win.
The actor also apologized to the academy and his fellow nominees.
“This is a beautiful moment. Art imitates life. I look like the crazy father. But love will make you do crazy things,” Will Smith said.
Will Smith was previously nominated for “Ali” in 2002 and “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2007.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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